Edinburgh Rugby: Phil Burleigh enjoys stand-off role

By Jamie LyallBBC Scotland
Phil Burleigh played a starring role for Edinburgh on Friday
Phil Burleigh played a starring role for Edinburgh in the Challenge Cup semi-final

Phil Burleigh is eager to stake a claim for Edinburgh's number 10 jersey after an assured display during Friday's 45-16 triumph over the Dragons.

The victory marked just the New Zealander's third match of the season at stand-off, having operated in the centres for much of the campaign.

"I guess I'm a utility," said the former Highlanders playmaker.

"I've got to perform in that position - I really enjoyed it tonight, I'd love to play there a bit more."

Head coach Alan Solomons signed the Kiwi "primarily as a stand-off" during the summer, though Burleigh had been seldom deployed there by his Super Rugby franchise.

"Phil is a fantastic 10, and - I've spoken to him about this - I'm surprised in New Zealand they never played him at 10," said Solomons.

"I know they had a number of other good players playing, but Phil is the absolute New Zealand first and second five-eighth, he is an outstanding rugby player."

The 28-year-old did ply his trade at stand-off at youth and provincial level for Canterbury and Bay of Plenty respectively, and helped pilot Edinburgh to a first-ever European final, combining a largely accurate kicking performance with intelligent attack.

Rival Tom Heathcote leaves for Worcester at the season's end, Greig Tonks is recovering from a hamstring injury, while Carl Bezuidenhout and Jade Te Rure remain on the periphery.

Burleigh may be confident of earning the right to steer the ship from 10 again as Edinburgh tackle Gloucester in a fortnight's time with the Challenge Cup at stake.

"We did catch them out of position quite a few times, our field position was really good," he continued.

"The backs enjoyed it; the forwards made the base for us to attack like that, especially in the first half, we put a lot of pressure on them, sped the game up at the right times and it worked for us.

"There's a lot of experience in this team, guys that have been here for a lot of years. Before the game was the biggest feeling, I could feel the boys were really up for it. You could see it in their eyes they wanted it.

"There are some stalwarts in the team and I'm really happy for them.

"You could see after the game the boys weren't jumping around and yahooing, we knew we'd done a good job but we want to win that final and that's been our goal right from the start.

"I think if we play to our potential we'll give any team a good run."

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